I thought the day started off badly when our dog threw up three times on our living room carpet.
But it got considerably worse when I exited my visit to Retina Consultants here in Salem with a probable diagnosis of glaucoma.
Well to be exact, Dr. Justin Baynham told me that my test results were "suspicious of glaucoma."
I'm trying to look at the bright side. Maybe it's good that my optometrist at Eye Care Physicians & Surgeons, Dr. Rebecca Chung, also wasn't completely sure that I have glaucoma.
That's why she referred me for a consultation at Retina Consultants.
I've had an annual eye exam for most of my life, since I wear contacts. One year a while back the pressure in my eye was elevated, but it went down the next year.
In 2020 my previous optometrist, Dr. Betsy McDowell (now retired), didn't see any damage to the optic nerve, so it was a surprise when a field of vision test last Monday showed that my right eye sucks when it comes to peripheral vision.
However, Dr. Baynham told me this afternoon that 50% of people with glaucoma don't have high pressure in their eyes.
On the darker side, Chung noted some damage to my right optic nerve, and Baynham confirmed that after I had a test where some sort of dye stuff was injected into my upper arm, where it quickly found its way to my eyes, which allowed images to be taken of the optic nerves.
Not good, especially in my right eye. My left eye had considerably lesser damage.
That's irreversible, unfortunately. So the goal is to keep my possible/probable glaucoma under control to prevent further damage, which Baynham said would occur by lowering my eye pressure from 21 to 14 mm Hg.
So I've got a prescription for Latanoprost eye drops, which hopefully will reduce my eye pressure from the high normal level of 21 to the low normal level of 14.
The big message I want to convey to others is this: Get a regular eye exam!
Not just a vision test, but an exam that checks y0ur eye pressure and dilates your eyes so the doctor can see if any optic nerve damage in occurring. This is especially important if you're over 60, have a family history of glaucoma, or at high risk for getting this disease.
I had no vision problems other than my usual nearsightedness when I went in for my annual eye exam on October 28. Though my peripheral vision is bad in my right eye, I hadn't noticed this.
A generally positive web page about glaucoma (things can be fine if it is detected and treated early) has this to say:
People with glaucoma who manage it well can live a normal, independent life. A big problem with glaucoma is that in the early stages, people with glaucoma live their lives largely unaffected by the condition while it is all the while progressing silently.
Problems with vision can at first be subtle and many people are able to manage life well with mild to moderate visual impairment. Visual loss can even go unnoticed until it becomes severe, at which point much of the damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible.
As a doctor treating hundreds of individuals with glaucoma, my goal is to pick up on early changes and use timely and effective interventions to prevent loss of vision. Nothing warms my heart more than to hear how my patients’ vision has become stable and that they are getting on with normal lives, being productive at work, enjoying their time with family, friends and having great experiences.
...I am grateful that we can detect glaucoma at its early stages. When my patients get a diagnosis of glaucoma at an early disease stage, I am able to keep them seeing well throughout the course of their lives.
Of course, my first reaction after hearing that I probably have glaucoma was, oh, no, I'm going to go blind! That seems unlikely, now that I've been able to have more rational reactions.
If you have glaucoma and could share some thoughts about how you've dealt with your problem, please do so in a comment on this post. Especially if things have gone well for you. No offense, but if you've gone blind from glaucoma, I'd prefer not to know this.